“Do you enjoy her company?”
That, Avadaci concluded, had been the extent of his grandfather’s kindness. Thank the stars he had broken his neck after a failed attempt to ascend the castle staircase. Not that many were privy to this information. The official listing on the cause of death involved something along the lines of falling in battle after slaying at least a dozen demons, although this was treated with quite a bit of skepticism by the general populace. Yet, interestingly enough, a decent portion of the locals believed a tale about the cannibals of Unkhtom devouring him whole.
Not that Avadaci really cared how his grandfather had died. He was just glad he was dead. And if he was glad his grandfather had died, Avadaci wondered, why did he have to attend his funeral? In fact, the whole kingdom was glad his grandfather had died. Why did they have to attend the funeral?
“Oh Avad,” proclaimed his mother, “obviously because they’re happy for you.”
Yes, thought Avadaci, and because they’re going to lose their heads if they don’t come and cheer. He sighed. This whole confounded funeral had all been an excuse to show off the newest addition to the family. Apparently, the wedding had not quenched his parents’ trophy displaying obsession in the slightest.
And yet, Avadaci could accept this conceited trial from his parents. What was beginning to appall him was the thing seated next to him. Its hideous, black eyes darted throughout the chapel. Its bony legs constantly trembled. Its elbow stabbed him in the stomach. And Its hair was making him feel ticklish.
“Stop,” commanded Avadaci.
It looked at him. Unfortunately, so did the rest of the chapel. His parents looked like they were about to kill him. He smiled back.
“Sorry everyone,” he said, “my wife needs to relieve herself.”
There, he thought while dragging It out of the chapel, now I can be done with this horrid funeral. He looked down at It. It looked up at him. He looked away.
“I suppose you’re mad I used you to escape?”
It kept looking.
He sighed. It had yet to speak a word in his presence.
“Are you angry because I said you had to relieve yourself?”
“Could it be that you were actually enjoying the funeral?”
It nodded, grasped his hand, and pointed back at the chapel. Avadaci wanted to give It a slap. But, he admitted, it would probably be wise to return. Staying out much longer might lead to extended gossip at the taverns tonight if his prior outburst hadn’t already set the stage for that.
Avadaci led It back to their seats. Whispers swirled around the room, only to vanish instantly as he glanced in their direction. As they sat down, his parents glared at him once more, this time with definite intent to kill or maim. He felt miserable. And It had resumed her trembling. Whether she could keep it up for the five or more hours that the funeral would last, he did not wish to find out. If only he could sleep through this, he thought, right before everything went black.
Avadaci bolted upright. And was greeted by a wealth of shrieks. He found himself surrounded by at least a hundred shocked guards, a fainted mother, and a speechless father. And sitting on top of him was a grinning It.
It took quite a bit of time to convince everyone he was all right. Apparently, they had all assumed It had killed him. And then they had almost killed It. And it had been a huge mess.
“You didn’t actually kill me, did you?” he asked It.
She shook her head.
“Then what did you do to me?”
It rested her head upon her hands and closed her eyes.
“You put me to sleep?”
It nodded. He felt a bit incredulous, but added, “And how did you go about performing this task?”
It smiled and held her very long and very sharp nails in front of him. She then touched the nails to her skin.
“Ah. Sticking your nails into my skin. Of course.”
It nodded vigorously.
Avadaci took time to process all this information. He wasn’t sure if It’s talents were something to be celebrated or feared. Sleeping was nice. Being killed, not as much. But there was only one thing that truly bothered Avadaci.
“How did you know I wanted to sleep through the funeral?”
It tapped her head.
“You can read minds?”